Online Certificate Programs in Health Science

With the growing demand for qualified health care workers, the availability of online certificate programs in health science has expanded in recent years. Students enrolled in this type of program will learn the skills and industry knowledge needed to pursue entry-level administrative positions in doctors' offices, hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities. Specific areas of training may include medical billing and coding, medical assisting, or medical administrative assisting. Courses covered will likely include medical terminology, human anatomy and physiology, reimbursement, medical billing and coding, computer technology, and business communication.

Medical Billing and Coding Certificate

Most employers are looking for medical billers and coders with a certificate or associate degree, as well as professional certification. If you attend an accredited program, you will likely be prepared to sit for one of the national certification exams. These can include certification offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders, American Medical Billing Association, or the American Health Information Management Association.

Most medical billing and coding certificate programs take approximately six months to one year to complete. Please note that time to completion can vary based on your level or enrollment throughout the program. Common courses include medical terminology, billing software, coding systems, and medical records management. An online curriculum gives students the flexibility they need to work around full or part-time jobs, travel restrictions, and family responsibilities. Online students may be required to complete an internship to gain practice in a real medical office setting, but this can be completed in their local area.

Medical Assisting Certificate

Medical assistants are in charge of both basic administrative and clinical tasks for doctors’ offices, clinics, hospitals, and other facilities. Most employers prefer to hire medical assistants with certification, though it is not mandatory. Certifications are offered through the American Association of Medical Assistants, American Medical Technologists, National Center for Competency Testing or the National Healthcareer Association. Most accredited programs teach students everything they need to know to sit for any one of these certification exams.

If you are interested in earning a certificate in health science online, with a specialization in medical assisting, you can expect six months to a year of full-time study. Of course, other factors such as any breaks from the program or transfer credits brought in can influence the estimated time to completion. Students will learn about medical terminology, human anatomy and physiology, patient care, clinical competency and health care law and ethics. Online classes are delivered through the virtual learning platform, which is accessible 24/7. Some clinical practice sessions and an externship may be required but can be arranged locally.

Medical Administrative Assisting Certificate

Medical administrative assistants are in charge of front desk duties at physicians’ offices, clinics and hospitals. They perform tasks such as scheduling, answering phones, filing, data entry and other office management responsibilities. Certificates or associate degrees are the most common educational programs for this position.

Certificate programs usually take six month to a year to complete. However, this can vary based on the number of courses you take each term. Classes in medical office management, medical terminology, medical records management, computer technology and patient relations are all common. Online students are free to log in to the virtual classroom at any time and from any location. This flexible schedule is ideal for working adults and busy parents looking to further their education. Some programs may also include an internship component arranged in the student’s local area.

What’s Next for Health Science Certificate Holders?

Graduates who earn a certificate in health science online may go on to fill entry-level administrative positions such as medical records and health information technicians, medical billers and coders or medical assistants. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase by 15% from 2014 to 2024. In 2014, the reported average salary for this occupation was $35,900. Estimated job growth was 23% for medical assistants over the same projection period and mean annual wage was $29,960 in 2014. Please note, these are only statistics and may not reflect actual job openings or starting salaries in your area.